There’s no denying the fact that life is full of ups and downs. In fact, it is liberally peppered with stressful situations and unforeseen setbacks. The first step to overcoming the stress that arises from these events is to accept that this is just the way things are. You’re not alone in this.
Research has shown that there is a link between stress and acne. If you get a breakout of acne after a rough week or two, the last thing you want to do is stress out over the breakout, on top of everything else. It’ll be a vicious cycle with no end in sight.
So, how do you break out of this insane loop?
1.Stop stress eating
The first thing most of us do under stress is to reach for a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream. That crunch, that coolness – what relief comes from falling into the soft, comforting arms of junk food!
Unfortunately, the relief is only temporary. To quote a line from Grey’s Anatomy: “This food has no food.”
When it gets processed by your system, it just ends up as more waste that needs to be eliminated. The skin takes on a large share of this responsibility, and if you already have clogged pores, the waste gets stuck in the pores, causing acne.
All the refined sugar in your system will cause inflammation, and add to your problems. Be mindful of what you reach for when you’re stressed.
You can do this by keeping a relentlessly honest food diary. Once you see – in writing – that you’ve eaten 5 pints of ice cream in the same week, it will likely shock you into reaching for something healthier.
We also tend to like crunchy foods because to our paleo selves, crunchy equals fresh. If this is your weakness, go to your local health-food store and look for wholegrain crackers, baked vegetable chips or mixed nuts.
It’s vital to keep the food on hand so that it’s right there when you’re stressed. If you’re not prepared, you’ll make up any number of excuses (no matter how outlandish) to go looking for food… and that will come at a heavy price.
2.Get enough sleep
When you’re stressed, the body’s production of the hormone cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) goes into overdrive. A lack of sleep makes your body produce even more cortisol and too much of it can cause a breakout.
This hormone is also responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which may arise if there are enough sleep-deprived nights. You will be on edge constantly. That translates to being too wired to go to sleep and too tired to do anything the next day.
Things pile up and your anxiety routine starts all over again. There are few cycles more stressful than this one.
If you’re already at this point, you’ll need to exercise patience with yourself. The habit has already been embedded in you and it will take some time to root out.
Start going to bed earlier. There’s no need to be drastic – start with just 10 minutes earlier than usual. It doesn’t matter what time you actually fall asleep at the beginning. Just get into the habit of being in bed earlier than usual.
Once you start falling asleep 10 minutes earlier, try adding on another 10 minutes. Keep doing this until you get about 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Avoid all electronic screens at least half an hour before you go to bed. It may seem relaxing to play a game on your tablet or chat with friends, but the screen is actually highly stimulating.
3.Manage your anxiety
Managing anxiety, stress and anger all sounds wonderful until you start to practice the oft-prescribed methods. What most proponents of such techniques don’t emphasize upfront is that you first have to master patience and self-forgiveness.
You’ll probably not get it in on the first try or even 10. It may take 50 tries before you start to calm down, but each try is one step closer to peace and the consequent outer glow of good health.
Meditation is often cited as an effective method to de-stress… and yet, it’s rarely practiced. Most people struggle to control their thoughts. Understand that this is perfectly natural.
Trying to stop it only causes more anxiety so just let the thoughts come and try to observe them as a dispassionate spectator. Start with just 30 seconds a day. When you’re comfortable with that, increase it by another 10-20 seconds… and so on.
You can also use guided meditation at the start – in fact, this is highly recommended. There are many apps out there that you can use. Keep trying this until you find one that suits you.
Another way to reduce stress, anxiety and anger is to disconnect. Our world today is wonderfully networked – we get to talk to loved ones anywhere, anytime, and at almost no cost.
But there is such a thing as being over-connected. Bosses and colleagues do not always exercise boundaries when it comes to sending emails or text messages. Often, if they have a sleepless night, they’ll happily correspond with you, assuming your phone is on silent.
Even if your phone really is on silent, you may get up in the middle of the night to use the washroom. And let’s face it – you’ll probably check your phone and find messages that add to your stress.
There is only one way to handle this: put your phone in a different room when you go to bed. It should not be your alarm clock until your sleep patterns have been sorted out.
If you receive a message that makes you so angry that you can’t sleep (we’ve all been there), don’t reply immediately. There’s a high chance you’ll regret everything in the morning.
Instead, draft a reply. Get it off your chest and go back to sleep without sending it. You’ll be amazed at how cathartic this is. If you can, give the message a full 24 hours before you shoot it off.
At the end of the day, there’s really very little in this world to get stressed about. You have reached this point in your life because you have – in one way or another – solved every problem you have encountered.
Have faith in yourself and stress less. When you glow on the inside, your skin will glow on the outside.